Report: Rapid growth in Rockies region
Growing cities, more roads and energy production in the Rocky Mountains are diminishing wildlife habitat, according to an annual report card issued by Colorado College.
Elk have lost 74 percent of their range and cougars 36 percent over the past 150 years, says the 2009 State of the Rockies Report Card. Coyote range has increased 40 percent, while animal-vehicle collisions increased 50 percent from 1990 to 2004.
The 2009 report addressed wildlife, rivers and demographic developments in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Arizona and New Mexico.
Six metropolitan areas, including Colorado’s Front Range, dominate regional growth, which continues at a faster pace than the rest of the nation. Some 82.5 percent of the region’s population lives in urban areas, compared with 79 percent nationally.
The Rockies population grew 18 percent from 2000 to 2007, compared with 7 percent nationwide.
“Wildlife is being constricted into smaller habitat areas and populations face non-endemic diseases, climate change, introduced species and other human impacts,” the report says.
“We think of wildlife as pretty abundant in the Rockies,” said Liz Kolbe, the report’s program coordinator. “But as people have spread west, (wildlife) have been extirpated from most of their habitat, so we’re pretty lucky to still have them where we do.”
The report noted that the mule deer population declined 46 percent from 2000 to 2004 in Pinedale, Wyo., home to the nation’s second-largest natural gas field.
Colorado College will host a symposium on the findings Sunday through Tuesday.